How Adam Rippon Plans to Channel Val Chermkovskiy for 'DWTS' (Exclusive)

Rippon also dished on how he's channeling Johnson's boyfriend, Val Chmerkovskiy, on the ABC series!

He may be a pro on the skating rink, but Adam Rippon has a lot of work in store on the dance floor -- just ask his dance partner, Jenna Johnson!

The two make their debut as a pair on Dancing With the Stars: Athletes on Monday, and candidly dished about their challenging road to the premiere.

“I'm so excited -- I think I have the best partner on the show, [but] she definitely has her hands full because I don't know how to dance,” the 28-year-old figure skater, told ET’s Nischelle Turner. “I thought I was going to go in and know all the steps, [but] I don't know any of them.”

“Stop, yes you do,” Johnson, 24, chimed in.

Asked whether she agreed with the Olympic bronze medalist’s claim that he can’t dance, Johnson humorously laughed, “Yes,” before giving him a hug.

“We have a lot of work to do,” she later admitted. “We had a lot of work to do.”

Rippon added that while he hits the clubs and feels comfortable on the dance floor during those nights out, he has realized those moves don’t translate to ballroom dancing.

And, while his performance background and time in the spotlight may help him prepare for dancing on live television, Rippon still feels like a fish out of water in this particular arena.

“It can be helpful, but this is definitely a world that I don’t know anything about,” he said. “Usually it’s just me, doing my own thing, but now I’m doing it with a partner on the dance floor. My skates are taken away from me and during a dance you can’t tell a joke, so that’s also taken away from me. So many things are being taken away from me, but I’m getting so many things in return -- like a new costume.”

When it comes to DWTS: Athletes costumes, the pair teased that viewers will get all the glitz that Rippon’s fans have come to know and love. Their first dance will also “scream Adam.”

“We said that we wanted to make this a celebration of Adam and who he is,” Johnson said. “I think you can expect a performance that screams Adam.”

“Bells, whistles, glitter,” Rippon added. “We will bring drama. And then I will wear bells and whistles.”

One thing viewers won’t see in their debut is fancy lifts. But that’s not to say that Rippon didn’t try to slip some elaborate flips in there!

“Right off the bat, I said, ‘Jenna, these are the lifts I want to do,’ and she said, ‘We can't do any of them.' So, no lifts,” he shared.

“He wants to, like, chuck me, double spin me, back flip and then catch me,” Johnson explained. “So, we are working up to that!”

While Johnson’s boyfriend and former DWTS pro, Val Chmerkovskiy, has swung by to watch the pair dancing -- and Rippon has watched videos of him to see how he moves -- Rippon shared that his own boyfriend, Jussi-Pekka Kajaala, sadly won’t be able to come and cheer him on.

“He's not going to make it to any of the shows, but don't worry, he is there in spirit,” Rippon said. “And we have Val's spirit with us and I'm going to be channeling him the entire competition. [Channeling Val] entails a fuller beard and a small dog and a spray tan, so I think I've got it.”

Tune into Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday evening for more of our interview with Rippon and Johnson and catch their DWTS: Athletes debut on Monday, April 30 at 8/7c on ABC.



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